The breeding season has begun on the majority of Irish dairy farms for 2023, with farmers aiming to submit 90% of their cows for the first three weeks of breeding. This is crucial for a compact calving season in the spring, ensuring that a high percentage of the herd will calve down in the first six weeks. However, for this to happen, cows need to be cycling, and there will always be a number of cows that aren’t cycling or won’t cycle in the first three weeks of breeding.
As most farms are now in week two of breeding, farmers will be hoping that a significant portion of their herd has now been served. But it is important to closely monitor any cows that haven’t been seen cycling yet, as pre-breeding monitoring can help to identify cows that were not cycling prior to the start of breeding. Some cows may not have calved or have only freshly calved, and any cows that are not cycling or problem cows need to be dealt with quickly.
Prompt treatment is necessary to get these cows cycling quickly so they can have a chance to go in calf within the first six weeks of the breeding season. Ideally, these problem cows would have been dealt with before the start of breeding, but for any that slipped through the cracks, treatment needs to be prompt. Farmers should consult with a vet to determine what treatment, if any, is required for cows that are currently not cycling. Some may just need a little more time, while others may need hormonal intervention to get them to come into heat.
It is important to note that the breeding season is a critical time for dairy farmers, and the success of the season can have a significant impact on the overall profitability of the farm. Farmers should ensure that they have a clear plan in place for the breeding season, including a breeding program, pre-breeding monitoring, and prompt treatment for any problem cows.
In addition to this, farmers should also ensure that they have the necessary resources and infrastructure in place to support the breeding season, including adequate feed and housing for the herd. This is particularly important during the winter months when cows require additional feed to maintain their body condition and support milk production.
Overall, the success of the breeding season will depend on a range of factors, including cow fertility, breeding management, and the availability of resources and infrastructure. With careful planning and management, however, dairy farmers can ensure a successful breeding season and a profitable year ahead.